HomeNewsBriefOrganized Crime Loopholes Water Down Mexico Justice Reform
BRIEF

Organized Crime Loopholes Water Down Mexico Justice Reform

JUDICIAL REFORM / 18 JUL 2016 BY MIKE LASUSA EN

Mexico is currently in the process of implementing historic changes to its criminal justice system, but the planned reforms include due process exceptions in organized crime cases that could undermine the initiative's intent.

The exceptions, outlined in a new report (pdf) from the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), provide for the use of a controversial measure known as "arraigo," which means "hold" and is a form of pretrial that allows suspects in organized crime cases to be held without formal charges for up to 80 days.

Other due process exceptions in organized crime cases allow mandatory pretrial detention of organized crime suspects, the interception of their private communications, and the restriction of detainees' communication and visitation rights, according to the report.

The authors of the WOLA report write that these exceptions "severely limit or negate the safeguards of the new system," laid out in a series of reforms passed by Mexico's legislature in 2008.

The reform effort is designed to shift the criminal justice system from inquisitorial proceedings, in which trials are largely conducted through written filings, to an accusatorial system like that of the United States, which allows for oral arguments and cross-examination of witnesses.

National implementation of the new system was supposed to be completed by June 18 of this year. However, the process has encountered a number of obstacles that have delayed progress. According to WOLA, only four of Mexico's 31 states "met all the criteria to consider the system fully operational," and some experts believe it could take more than a decade before the reforms are fully enacted.

16-0715WOLAMexReform

InSight Crime Analysis

The broad definition of "organized crime" contained in the reform adds to concerns about the above-mentioned exceptions to normal due process rules. The legislation defines organized crime as "the de facto organization of three or more persons to commit crimes on a permanent or ongoing basis." (The text of the reform, along with an English translation, is contained in this pdf report from Justice in Mexico.)

The WOLA report warns that "this broad definition can potentially widen the range of cases that fall under the exceptions and restrict defendants' rights." This could undermine some of the main goals of the reform effort, which is intended to bring greater transparency to judicial proceedings and to protect the rights of defendants.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Judicial Reform

"Given how seldom the rule of law has prevailed in the country," WOLA cautions, "the continued use of these tools and exceptions could have grave consequences and hinder the use of professional, scientific techniques in criminal investigations."

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

EXTORTION / 1 NOV 2017

A new report suggests that two organized crime groups in Mexico initially funded their criminal enterprises through extorting and…

ELITES AND CRIME / 22 MAY 2020

The former head of Mexico’s federal police has been implicated in a money-laundering scheme that moved millions in suspected bribes…

MEXICO / 30 JUL 2013

Taxi drivers in Chilpancingo, Mexico, are demanding authorities take action against the more than 150 organized crime linked "narcotaxis"…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution Met With Uproar

6 MAY 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime launched its latest investigation, Venezuela’s Cocaine Revolution¸ accompanied by a virtual panel on its findings. The takeaways from this three-year effort, including the fact that Venezuela…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela Drug Trafficking Investigation and InDepth Gender Coverage

29 APR 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime will be publishing The Cocaine Revolution in Venezuela, a groundbreaking investigation into how the Venezuelan government regulates the cocaine trade in the country. An accompanying event,…

THE ORGANIZATION

InDepth Coverage of Juan Orlando Hernández

22 APR 2022

Ever since Juan Orlando Hernández was elected president of Honduras in 2014, InSight Crime has provided coverage of every twist and turn during his rollercoaster time in office, amid growing…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution

15 APR 2022

On May 4th, InSight Crime will publish a groundbreaking investigation on drug trafficking in Venezuela. A product of three years of field research across the country, the study uncovers cocaine production in…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Widespread Coverage of InSight Crime MS13 Investigation

8 APR 2022

In a joint investigation with La Prensa Gráfica, InSight Crime recently revealed that four of the MS13’s foremost leaders had been quietly released from…